The Rockdale County Water and Sewer Authority voted this week to recommend an $8.78 per month increase in the base rate for both water and sewer service for residential customers. For customers receiving both, the increase will total $17.56 per month.
Non-residential customers will see an increase of 2.5 times the current rate and varying fees according to meter size.
The authority has recommended the new rate start July 1.
"We need to stop the bleeding," said Water Authority Chairman Elaine Nash. "Replacing leaking water lines and aging meters that are not reading usage properly are among the infrastructure replacement priorities identified by Rockdale Water Resource that require capital funding. Failure to address these problems will cost rate payers more in the long run. The utility loses potential revenue when treated water leaks from pipes and when meters under-register actual usage,"
The authority pointed to Rockdale Water Resource’s inability to meet the annual operating expenses and debt service payment with the current level of revenue; the condition of infrastructure, which leads to a 34 percent loss of water; and an unrestricted cash reserve of $5 million although the system carries $110 million in debt, which may make it difficult to borrow money in the future, as reasons for the recommendation.
The increase will generate approximately $2.5 million by the end of the year, which will allow Rockdale Water Resource’s to amend its 2009 budget to fund projects that the utility director and authority members say are needed to protect the integrity of the system and to avoid depleting funds that are legally restricted to capital improvement projects.
"User charges must cover the cost of doing business if the utility is going to remain operationally and fiscally viable," Nash said. "The authority has an obligation to recommend a rate structure that allows PWP to fulfill its obligations to its customers, the community and the bond holders who have loaned money to the system. The current rate structure does not provide adequate revenue to support fulfilling these responsibilities."
A public hearing on the proposed increase is set for Thursday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m. at 1400 Parker Road.